Notre Dame Basketball: Irish survive scare from Pitt in ACC tourney opener

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 06: Marcus Carr
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 06: Marcus Carr /

Notre Dame basketball survived a scare from Pitt, coming away with a 67-64 victory in the first win of the ACC Tournament

Notre Dame needed a win against Pittsburgh in the first round of the ACC tournament to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive. Winless in the ACC this season, Notre Dame’s first test in the tournament was one easy to overlook.

But the Irish knew that they weren’t playing just to survive and advance, they were playing to showcase to the NCAA Tournament committee what they can do.

Notre Dame shot out to a 7-0 lead with threes from Matt Farrell and Rex Pflueger. Pitt wouldn’t go down easily. Surprisingly they put together a run of their own to tie the game at ten apiece.

Pitt showed some fight, but Pflueger was dialed in. Hitting his second shot from behind the arc for seven early points. With only three points after the under 12 media timeout, Bonzie Colson proved he could do it on the other end as well. Pitt’s Shamiel Stevenson sent up a layup and Colson sent it into the stands.

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  • If one thing was clear early on, Notre Dame could easily dominate in the transition game. But, maybe in hopes of possibly saving the teams legs for a potentially long week, the Irish took their time getting into their offense.

    The Fighting Irish stayed in their 2-3 zone while daring Pitt to shoot from beyond the arc. Exactly what you want to do against a poor shooting team. Yet, Pitt was able to come away with too many offensive rebounds, which led to second-chance points.

    All about the efficiency

    Efficient offense fueled the defense as Notre Dame went into the locker room at half 36-24. Shooting 48.3 percent from the field for the first half, the Irish went 4-8 from beyond the arc.

    Meanwhile, Notre Dame held Pitt to 25.8 percent shooting and 3-16 from downtown. Head coach Mike Brey’s decision to continue switching from zone to man disrupted Pitt’s offense helping the Irish go on a run.

    The Irish came out slow in the second half. Missing three early three attempts, Notre Dame only posted four points before the first media timeout.

    Pittsburgh’s fight

    A slow offensive start would allow Pitt to make it a ten-point game with only 13 minutes left. More than just a slow offensive start, Pitt continued to chip their way back into the game. Notre Dame would continue to struggle to find production from anywhere.

    Farrell finally hit Notre Dame’s first three of the second half with just under seven minutes left to play. The Irish went 1-of-8 from the arc up to that point in the half.

    In crunch time Pitt put together an 8-0 run to give the Irish a scare. A deep three from Farrell was rebounded by Colson who drew the foul. The senior put the game on ice as he hit both free throws.

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    Notre Dame survived the relentless attack of Pitt 67-64. Tomorrow the Fighting Irish will take on Virginia Tech 7 PM ET in the second round of the ACC Tournament.